The story of Israel’s assassinations against Hezbollah: Part 1 - 1982-2000

Middle East News
2024-01-17 | 13:35
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The story of Israel’s assassinations against Hezbollah: Part 1 - 1982-2000
The story of Israel’s assassinations against Hezbollah: Part 1 - 1982-2000

Israel has a long history of political assassinations in Lebanon, escalating during the presence of armed Palestinians and the civil war. 

However, the 1980s marked a turning point after the Israeli invasion. The nucleus of Islamic resistance groups emerged, conducting operations against the Israeli occupation in the south.

One of the resistance's "spiritual fathers," Sheikh Ragheb Harb, was from Jibchit, a village that became a religious and political center in the south.

According to the book "Rise and Kill First" by Israeli author Ronen Bergman, Sheikh Ragheb's speeches reached Israelis. 

An ex-Mossad leader, Meir Dagan, later the agency's chief, mentioned, "Sheikh Harb became a significant religious authority in the south, consistently calling for attacks against Israel and Israelis."

Consequently, Dagan sought permission to eliminate Harb. 

On the night of February 16, 1984, two Mossad operatives assassinated Sheikh Ragheb at his home in Jibchit, becoming one of the first and most important Shiite martyrs.

A year later, on March 4, 1985, acting on Meir Dagan's orders, Israelis assassinated Amal Movement leaders Mohammed Saad and Khalil Jradi with an explosive device in the Husseinieh of the town of Maarakeh in Tyre.

With the 1980s ending and Hezbollah gaining prominence, according to the book, Israel struggled to recruit agents from within the environment. 

The pace of operations against Israelis increased, prompting the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate to decide to assassinate the former secretary-general of Hezbollah, Abbas al-Musawi.

The assassination, carried out by reconnaissance aircraft and an Apache helicopter near the village of Tefahta, happened on February 16, 1992, during his return from commemorating Sheikh Ragheb Harb's assassination. 

Al-Musawi, along with his wife, child, and companions, were all martyred.

Al-Musawi's killing escalated operations and rocket launches. Israel halted assassinations for a while, but remote operations inspired them to attempt a similar act three years later. Field leaders became preferable due to diminished chances of prolonged consequences.

The first operation in this phase was the assassination of Hezbollah's official in the Nabatieh region, Reda Yaseen. Tracked during his route from his home in Zawtar El Charqiyeh, he was assassinated by a helicopter strike on March 30, 1995, on the Hameiry-Derdghaiya road.

Afterward, Israel carried out 27 operations, succeeding in 20. However, the assassination attempts ceased after a significant failure on September 4, 1997, which was supposed to be carried out by the naval commandos in Ansariyeh.

Hezbollah's intelligence exposed the operation before execution, setting an ambush that killed 12 Israeli soldiers. Consequently, Israel concluded its southern operations.

Even hours before the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon on May 22, 2000, Israel could locate Imad Mughniyeh, a commander whom it had been searching for for years. 

However, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak refused the assassination, fearing a retaliation that might force them to stay in southern Lebanon, halting the withdrawal. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: Post-Liberation Assassinations.

Lebanon News

Middle East News





Sheikh Ragheb Harb


Meir Dagan

Amal Movement


Abbas al-Musawi

Reda Yaseen

Imad Mughniyeh

Ehud Barak

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